Vernon Wells once hit .317 with 33 homeruns and 117 RBIs and lead the American league in doubles, and garnered MVP consideration. That was in 2003, which strangely enough, is a really long time ago now. Wells’ elite production carried through the 2006 season, earning him a seven-year/$126 MM deal, that unfortunately for the Blue Jays (and later the Angels), was back-loaded.
Fast forward to year seven of that deal, and Wells has since played for both the Angels and Yankees, and his rapid decline led to his his release from the New York Yankees last week, who after the signing of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, simply didn’t have a spot for Wells, as they have elected, for now, to keep Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Alfonso Soriano.
Wells certainly wouldn’t help any team in the sabermetrics deparment (a negative WAR each of the last three seasons), but considering he has 22 homeruns over the last two seasons, and could still make sense to someone as a fourth or fifth outfielder, and pinch-hitter.
In his weekly Sunday morning national baseball column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that the Phillies are among a few teams that “have expressed interest” in Wells’ services.
The Phillies have expressed some interest, but a few teams are beginning to consider a look-see for the 35-year-old former All-Star.
Well doesn’t need to play next season, as regardless of whether he signs with a team, he will collect a $21 check, with the Angels (who he
paid played for 2011 and 2012) picking up a majority of that tab. That might actually work in the Phillies favor though, because they could potentially sign Wells to a low money deal, and if he works out they caught lightning in a bottle, and if not, they can cut him with pretty much no penalty.
Cafardo spoke with “an American League special assistant”, who seemed to describe the exact reasons why Wells could make sense for the Phillies.
One American League special assistant said, “It’s a no-brainer if you need a righthanded bat. He still hits lefties well [.269 last season], can play the outfield, not like he used to, but he’s basically a minimum-salary guy for any team since the Angels are still paying most of the freight.”
Do the Phillies need a right-handed bat? Yes. Do they need some players who hit lefties better than the current lineup? Well yeah, those two usually go hand-in-hand. He can spell Dom Brown or Marlon Byrd if needed, pinch-hit, and he could be a very good DH option during inter-league play.
I wouldn’t expect anything to get done soon, as Wells seems likely to get a major league deal closer to Spring Training, but for once, the Phillies going against analytics, might actually be a smart move.